ChatRewind: Bengals 'expect' Super Bowl

For a full transcript of this week's AFC North chat, you can click right here. If you want some highlights, here are some selected ones:


Rexx (Baltimore): The Ravens have totally revamped the defense. What do you think will be the strengths and weaknesses of that defense?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Strength: Run defense. The Ravens are committed to making that a strength after last season. Weakness: Deep coverage. I'm not saying this because I've seen anything in practice that suggest this. But quarterbacks were hesitant to throw deep when Ed Reed was playing centerfield. With a rookie (Matt Elam) and Huff back there now, it wouldn't surprise me if teams tested the Ravens more downfield.

JJ (MPLS): How much do you think Bernard Pierce will cut into Ray Rice's workload this year? Rice doesn't get injured and is an elite back. One would think Pierce should only see five carriers or less per game, right?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I'm not one who is jumping on Pierce's bandwagon just yet. Rice is still the best option at running back. I can see a year or two down the road where there's talk of Pierce taking over. Right now, I see Pierce as a runner who can pound out yards against a defense that has been softened up by Rice and the running game. As far as carries, Pierce got between eight and nine carries starting in November last year. I envision that being the workload for him this year.


Shane (Somerville, OH): I enjoyed your blog on what you gathered from the first episode of Hard Knocks with the Cincinnati Bengals. I felt you missed one key item that Jay Gruden told some of the players. Correct me if I'm wrong but he told them he expects the Bengals in the Super Bowl this year. Pretty bold statement if you ask me. Your thoughts.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Thanks for bringing that up. I had that in my notes and it didn't make it to the blog post. It was a good statement by Gruden to the team. He basically said the Bengals whispered about the Super Bowl two years ago and put it on their t-shirt last year. Now, it's expected. That's right on point. This is the mentality the Bengals need to have. You can't talk about it. You have to expect it and go do it.

Nick (Cincy): Dre Kirkpatrick will overtake Terence Newman for the No.2 cornerback spot by Week ___?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): If Kirkpatrick does become a starter, it won't happen until midseason at the earliest.


Matt (Canton, OH): Besides a difference in coaching strategy, what do you see out of Rob Chudzinski that you didn't see out of Pat Shurmur? From anything to how he's running camp to relationships with players?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): The biggest change that stood out to me was the pace of camp. There seems to be a faster tempo and more urgency. On offense, the Browns are getting out of the huddle faster. On defense, they're running to the ball quicker.

Mike (CT): Will Leon McFadden crack the starting lineup sometimes this year?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I see him splitting time with Chris Owens throughout the year. He may not be officially a starter for the entire year.


LeAnne (Washington): Antonio Brown over 90 catches this year?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I would take the under. He's never had 70 catches in any season. I understand that he'll get more passes thrown his way considering Mike Wallace is gone and Heath Miller is hurt. But I believe a lot of the passes that would go to Miller will now go to the running backs.

Bryan (Denver): If Big Ben and the O-Line stay healthy, do you see the Steelers winning the division?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): That's a major part of the equation. The other part is getting sacks and generating turnovers on defense. The Steelers had the top-ranked defense as far as yards allowed, but they didn't have a game-changing defense. That would have to change, and all of that goes back to Troy Polamalu staying healthy.